Were the YouTube Election 2008 debates a publicity stunt meant to break through the summer media doldrums, or a great example of voter generated media? Both in my view. However if you take the use of such social media technologies to their eventual conclusion, white house press conferences will have YouTube producers with questions on video from the public, and politicians will be using digg like social media technologies to determine the pulse of the public's interests.
Dell has developed IdeaStorm a web-based application that gives customers the ability to suggest product ideas, and other customers can vote the ideas up or down. Dell has already produced products based on the website. What if we had a voter Opinion website similar to IdeaStorm? Well just as a few people and their friends can manipulate Digg you might have a lot of ideas that the majority of the population don't agree with.
Social media does have a role to play in democracy and citizenship; it has already played a significant part in past elections, through forums, blogs and online campaign contributions. It will be interesting to see if politicians interact with social media for policy decisions in the future or just use social media as a publicity stunt.